Though teenage Julija (Gracija Filipović) lives on an island paradise with her family, her life is anything but tranquil. She and her mother, Nela (Danica Čurčić), live under the shadow of her short-tempered father, Ante (Leon Lučev). He likes to demonstrate his control over them with anger and violence. However, when Javier (Cliff Curtis), an old friend of Ante’s, arrives to discuss a business deal, Julija is given a glimpse of a different life. She and her mother seem truly happy for the first time in a long time, but their happiness leads to mounting tension between them and Ante. This could be Julija’s only chance to escape before the situation becomes volatile.
Writer-director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic weaves a fiery feminist tale of one woman’s pursuit for liberation in her feature debut. Filipović gives a powerfully nuanced performance as the youngster at this pivotal point of realisation in her life. Her father’s toxic behaviour has been the cage that’s kept her in line all these years, with Lučev’s domineering, and sometimes even frightening, screen presence being all viewers need to understand the domestic situation. It’s through this central conflict the filmmaker effectively explores concepts of masculinity, power and freedom.
Slowly, the antagonism between father and daughter begins to intensify. Ante’s behaviour becomes increasingly more controlling whilst Julija becomes bolder in her actions as she becomes more confident in herself. Kusijanovic drops plenty of hints throughout the visit that something is going to snap when this conflict reaches breaking point. But what viewers won’t expect is the genuinely harrowing turn the climax takes when it eventually does. And amongst the shock and soul-crushing disappointment that comprises the final act, there’s nevertheless a sense of overwhelming catharsis that also accompanies the finale, underscoring the emotional scope the director succeeds in capturing.
With Murina, Kusijanovic has created a poignant allegory of toxic masculinity and bravado juxtaposed against the magnificent beauty of its Croatian island setting.
Murina does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Glasgow Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Murina here: